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How we help payors
The Recalculation Program (RP) allows payors to have their eligible child support orders regularly recalculated to reflect changes in the payor’s earnings as shown by their income tax returns. In some cases, changes in the recipient’s earnings are also considered. RP charges each of the payor and recipient a service fee of $77 for each recalculation that changes their child support amount.
Once clients register with RP, this service:
- offers an easy and inexpensive way for payors to fulfil their legal obligation to ensure the child support their children receive matches the parents’ incomes
- provides regular changes to child support amounts that respond to either increases (e.g. raises) or decreases (e.g. cutbacks, job loss) in your income
- ensures accessibility no matter where in Alberta the parties reside
- does not require either party to attend court or go to a government office, and
- provides certainty, predictability and transparency in the method of recalculation.
RP considers only one change in circumstance regarding child support payments – a change in guideline income, as shown in income tax returns. This change in guideline income can result in a new table amount of support being payable and/or updated proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses only. No other terms of the existing court order are affected.
RP bases its recalculations on income tax documentation. If RP is recalculating proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses or monthly support in shared or split custody (parenting) situations, RP also considers the recipient’s income information.
RP requires tax return documents for the most recent tax year (previous calendar year ending December 31). If a parent’s (payor or recipient) notice of assessment for the previous calendar year is not yet available, the parent can submit tax return documents for the year before the previous calendar year only if the income information due date is prior to June 30. A deemed income increase can be applied if a parent fails to provide RP with the required income information.
RP can recalculate in some, but not all, cases where income information shows a payor or recipient is self-employed or involved in a private corporation.
See also: Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
Recalculations are based on the anniversary date of the order being recalculated. After reviewing the parties’ income information, RP will send both parents a written Recalculation Decision.
If RP's calculations show a difference of at least $10 per month in child support (or at least 10% in proportionate shares), RP's Recalculation Decision changes the amount of child support payable in the parties’ court order. The parents are responsible for paying the new amounts stated in the decision unless an objection is made within 30 days after the Recalculation Decision is sent. Each of the recipient and the payor is charged a service fee of $77 for the recalculation.
See also: Objecting to a Recalculation Decision Information Sheet (PDF, 35 KB)
What we can’t do for payors
The Recalculation Program (RP) recalculates eligible child support orders (and some agreements). RP does not help payors get a child support order or agreement; it only recalculates existing one. Parents looking for help with resolving legal disputes can find information on Resolution and Court Administration Services.
RP will apply its legislation and regulations to recalculate child support in an administrative, efficient, non-discretionary manner. It cannot weigh evidence, exercise discretion or consider special circumstances like a court can. Some situations, such as those involving significant self-employment or private corporation involvement by a payor or recipient, may need to be handled by a court instead of RP.
See also: Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
RP targets its recalculations to be effective on the anniversary date of the court order and uses income tax documentation to recalculate. This is the case even when the child support order directs a different date for recalculation to occur. This means payors cannot ask RP to recalculate at different times or to respond immediately to income changes. For example, if a payor receives a large pay cutback, RP will not immediately change the child support payable. Rather, RP’s recalculation of child support will take this decrease into account the following year, after it appears on the payor’s income tax return.
Unlike the court dealing with a parent’s request for a variation order, RP cannot deal with:
- retroactive child support
- maintenance arrears
- deciding if a child is still eligible for support
- the entitlement to special or extraordinary expenses
- changes other than income (such as a child no longer being dependent or moving to live with the other parent, or changes in the nature of special or additional expenses being incurred)
- relief other than child support (e.g. parenting time, property)
- evidence of income other than income information.
RP also does not deal with enforcement of child support. This is handled by the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). In some cases, MEP may be able to address some changes in child eligibility or special expenses through their policies on reducing enforcement. This would only apply to parties who are registered at MEP.
Payors’ legal obligations
Payors registered with RP have these obligations to the program:
Payors must provide RP with their current contact information (address and phone numbers) and inform the program of any changes to this contact information within 30 days. The most convenient and secure way for payors to update their contact information is through their online account in RIO. Payors can also do this by phone, regular mail, fax or email. (To protect their privacy, clients choosing to use fax should ensure they dial the correct number. Those using email should know the Internet is not secure; emails can be easily intercepted or misdirected.)
Payors are also encouraged to inform RP of any changes in the recipient’s contact information.
RP is entitled by law to use the last known address for a client when sending its Recalculation Decisions or other notices. Any documents sent to a client’s last known address are deemed by law to have been received.
Payors must provide income information to RP at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the child support order. The information required is:
RP requires tax return documents for the most recent tax year (previous calendar year ending December 31). If a payor’s notice of assessment for the previous calendar year is not yet available, the payor can submit tax return documents for the year before the previous calendar year only if the income information due date is prior to June 30.
If the payor does not provide RP with income information as required, RP may complete the recalculation as if the payor’s income had increased by up to 25% or as if the payor's income was $31,200, whichever is the higher amount. RP may need an order of the court to do this in some cases.
For more information, see Information Sheet - Deemed Income Increase (PDF, 196 KB).
About a month before it is due, RP will send clients a courtesy reminder to send their income information. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure their income information reaches RP on time, however, even if they do not receive the reminder.
- a copy of the payor’s personal income tax return (PDF, 1.0 MB) filed for the most recent taxation year;
- a copy of every notice of assessment or reassessment (PDF, 73 KB) received by the recipient from Revenue Canada for the most recent taxation year; and
- a completed income questionnaire (PDF, 125 KB). This questionnaire allows RP to identify if the recipient is involved with a private corporation.
RP charges each client a service fee of $77 for each recalculation that results in a change in the child support payable. Clients must ensure they pay their service fees, even if they do not agree with RP’s decision.
Payors registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) will have their service fee automatically applied to their MEP file. To avoid collection action, payors should promptly send payment of their RP service fee to MEP as indicated on their service fee invoice. If you pay your maintenance to MEP before its due date, the service fee may be paid from this credit balance on your account, which may make your maintenance payment short by $77. To avoid this difficulty, payors should ensure there is an additional $77 credit on their MEP account.
RP service fee payments cannot be made by telephone or Internet banking or by credit card. Fees may be paid by cash, cheque or money order. Clients should not send cash through the mail. Cash and debit payments for RP are accepted at MEP's Edmonton office at:
7th Floor John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Providing child support orders and court applications
Payors must promptly provide RP with copies of any court orders granted that change or confirm their child support. They should also keep RP informed of any ongoing court applications regarding their child support amounts. They best way to do this is to provide copies of all application documents.
Payors with eligible child support orders have the right to request registration with RP.
Once registered with RP, payors have these rights:
Right to object
Payors who do not agree with a Recalculation Decision have the right to object to the recalculated child support amount within 31 days of being notified of the Recalculation Decision.
For more information, see Information Sheet - Objecting to a Recalculation Decision (PDF, 35 KB).
If the parties are required by court rules or their court order(s) to complete certain steps before they are allowed to bring a child support court application, also see Information Sheet – Objecting to a Recalculation Decision – Mandatory Prerequisites (PDF, 193 KB).
See also: Notice of Objection to Recalculation Decision form (PDF, 150 KB)
Right to privacy
RP will keep payors’ contact and other personal information private. It will not be disclosed, except as required by law. One notable exception is that payors’ income information may be shared with recipients if provided to RP.
Right to consent to recalculation in some self-employment situations
If RP is recalculating proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses or monthly support in shared or split custody (parenting) situations, both the payor and the recipient will be required to provide their income information to RP.
If a recipient’s income information shows involvement in a private corporation or partnership, and the payor’s child support will increase based on this income information, RP may seek consent from the payor before proceeding with the recalculation. RP may also seek the payor’s consent in some circumstances where the recipient’s income information shows significant self-employment income. In these cases, you have the right to choose whether you want RP to proceed with the recalculation.
For more information, see Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
Right to withdraw or waive recalculation
If the payor is the party who registered with RP, the payor can also choose to withdraw from the program.
RP must receive the payor's written withdrawal request at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the court order if the payor wishes the current recalculation to be cancelled and the file closed. However, recalculation will continue if the recipient has registered or chooses to register with RP. If the withdrawal is received late, the file may be closed only after the current recalculation if completed.
See also: Withdrawal form (PDF, 122 KB)
With the agreement of the recipient, payors can also ask RP not to recalculate for any given year. For the current recalculation to be waived, RP must receive the waiver form at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the child support order.
See also: Waive Recalculation form (PDF, 122 KB)
Right to obtain income disclosure from the recipient
If RP is recalculating proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses or monthly support in shared or split custody (parenting) situations, RP will be asking the recipient each year to provide income information.
Registration with RP does not affect the payor’s right to ask the recipient for financial information. Each parent still has their usual rights to request financial disclosure under the Alberta Rules of Court and the Child Support Guidelines. Parents also keep their right to receive any financial documents the court has ordered the parties to share; many child support orders contain a clause directing both parties to share tax returns and other documents on a yearly basis.
Payors can see a copy of the income information the recipient has provided to RP on their file through RIO, the online account system offered to RP clients. Before posting the information received from the recipient, RP typically removes certain parts of the recipient’s personal information, such as marital status, Social Insurance Number and contact information.
For more information see: RIO Info Sheet (PDF, 34 KB)
Right to return to court
Even when registered with RP, payors have the right to return to court at any time to ask to vary their current order. If a new order is granted, a copy should be provided promptly to RP.
What RP sends when they do a recalculation
RP will send each client a written document called a Recalculation Decision. The Recalculation Decision will state:
- the parent(s)' new guideline income(s);
- whether the recalculated guideline income was based on income disclosure or a deemed income increase;
- the new monthly child support payment amount (i.e. table amount);
- the new proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses (if applicable);
- when the first payment of the recalculated amount is due;
- the effective date of the Recalculation Decision; and
- the deadline for the parties to object to RP's Recalculation Decision.
Recalculating child support right after you’ve lost your job
The Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) works on an annual schedule for recalculations and looks at the parents’ incomes over a whole year, rather than at one point in time. This means RP does not recalculate immediately on the request of a parent. It also means RP will not consider Employment Insurance slips as proof of income.
RP’s target for recalculation of a court order is the anniversary date of the court order. The program requires approximately four months to perform the recalculation, which is based on the previous year’s income tax information. RP cannot go back and reduce amounts owed for child support in the past.
If you need to change your child support right now, you must go back to court or get a consent order through negotiation or mediation with the other parent. There is a helpful Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) info sheet on Varying or Changing Your Court Order (PDF, 282 KB) that provides information on how to go back to court. Family Law Information Services can assist with forms necessary to file a court application or you can go see a lawyer to help you go to court and get the child support amount changed now. Other helpful resources are listed in MEP's info sheet Referrals to Resources (PDF, 410 KB).
RP recommends that you use the eligibility criteria for as a reference when getting your new court order so this order will be eligible for to recalculate in the future and that you include a recalculation clause.
RP does not adjust child support owed from previous years
The Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) cannot go back and adjust child support amounts owed for previous years (i.e. retroactive adjustments).
Recalculation Decisions take effect in the future, about a month after they are issued by RP. One of the goals of our program is to do regular child support recalculations so neither party suffers the economic hardship a retroactive child support change can sometimes cause.
If you believe you have overpaid support in the past, or that you were entitled to receive more support in the past, you may wish to consider negotiation or mediation with the other party or bringing a court application if this is not successful.
For more information, you may wish to access the Family Law Information website or see the Maintenance Enforcement Program’s helpful resources:
- Information Sheet - Varying or changing your court order(PDF, 282 KB)
- Information Sheet - Referrals to resources (PDF, 410 KB)
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- Agreement to Stop Recalculation of Special Expenses (PDF, 115 KB)
- Client Authorization of Third Party (PDF, 162 KB)
- Income Questionnaire (PDF, 125 KB)
- Notice of Objection to Recalculation Decision (PDF, 150 KB)
- Registration Request (PDF, 222 KB)
- Waive Recalculation (PDF, 122 KB)
- Withdrawal (PDF, 122 KB)
To connect with the Child Support Recalculation Program.